PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – A former employee and regular patron of McDonald’s has filed a lawsuit for false imprisonment which allegedly occurred at the restaurant located at 1661 4th Street South in St. Petersburg. Plaintiff Quentin Burney is suing McDonald’s franchise owner JTS Enterprises of Tampa Ltd., also known as Caspers Company. The corporation owns over 50 “golden arch” restaurants.
The alleged incident occurred on November 18, 2018 when like clockwork on most days of the previous eight months, Burney arrived at or around 6 a.m. for some morning brew. The lawsuit states Joe Lambert, Crew Chief, unlocked the restaurant, let Burney step inside, then locked the door with his company keys, leaving Burney all alone without a hello, for twelve minutes. When Burney was asked in an interview if there was a meeting that morning or if the crew appeared to be running late, Burney said, “No. They just abandoned the entire store, and no one could be seen except a manager outside smoking a cigarette. I yelled for help but no one answered. Then, my coffee appeared out of nowhere at the counter after twelve minutes.”
Burney stated that gamesmanship over getting his coffee began before the alleged incident of false imprisonment. The McDonald’s employees, he said, would abandon the register and make him wait six or seven minutes to get his coffee. He said this occurred seven or eight times. Prior to these events, Burney claims his yard was “trashed with McDonald’s bags” for about a year, which he suspects was the mischief of some of the restaurant’s employees.
“Anna, a manager there once said to me, ‘I told them to leave you alone,’” Burney explained. When asked why he thought the store employees, including some of the managers, would rally against him, he replied, “Anthony Naylor, the store manager – I think he’s got some issue with me, but a mother of one of the employees said she was told they were trying to lock me up to get the police on me. They were trying to get a reaction out of me.”
There seemed to be no apparent or suspected reason for Burney’s experiences – until he was asked about his checkered past history with law enforcement and his health.
Burney has prior battery and disorderly conduct charges filed against him, including convictions. But according to him, he suffers from schizophrenia, a mental disability for which he receives disability checks. When asked if any of the employees were aware of his legal past, he replied he wasn’t sure. “But,” he said, “some of them do know I am a schizophrenic, mentally disabled person.” Burney indicated he takes medication.
Kim Scott, Vice-President of Human Resources for Caspers Company, replied to a Pinellas County Consumer Protection inquiry regarding Burney’s case of false imprisonment. On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Scott wrote that the McDonald’s lobby Burney was referencing was under construction at the time of the alleged incident. “The store was clearly marked that it was under construction,” she noted. “Our restaurant was open but serving guests only through the drive-thru…” Scott continued that Burney entered through the restaurant’s main door that was left open for construction workers, while side doors remained locked. She indicated that no employees were aware he was present due to the closed lobby operation, but when he “vocalized” he needed to be served, he was given his coffee order, and “then he left.”
“At no time was the door locked, and he was able to leave as he came, however, the manager on the shift opened the side lobby doors at his request…we deny that he was ever unable to freely leave the building,” Scott continued. She reiterated that the area was clearly marked as “being closed for remodel.”
Burney, who provided Caspers Company’s response by Scott, insists her version of the story is not accurate, and wonders why Scott declares there is no video of the incident. In her company response, she stated that because Burney said nothing until two months after the incident, there was no video of Burney’s experience available.
Several attempts were made to reach Caspers Company executives and general counsel, but there was no response.